According to court documents Ruben Gutierrez would break into the home of Escolastica Cuellar Harrison. The elderly woman would be beaten to death before her home was robbed
Ruben Gutierreze would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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Ruben Gutierrez Now
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Ruben Gutierrez Case
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has denied a request by death row inmate Ruben Gutierrez seeking a motion to stay proceedings in his case pending the outcome of related litigation in a Cameron County state District Court.
The higher court issued its denial ruling Friday.
Gutierrez, 44, was found guilty of the 1998 brutal death of 85-year-old Brownsville widow Escolastica Harrison at her trailer home. According to records, he attempted to steal $600,000 that she had hidden inside her home. He has been on death row ever since.
Gutierrez was requesting the higher court stay his execution pending a ruling in his state case pertaining to the testing of his DNA that he claimed would clear him of the murder of a Brownsville woman.
In August 2021, Gutierrez filed another civil rights lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, alleging his civil rights are being violated because a priest will not be allowed to be with him in the death chamber on his Oct. 27, 2021 execution date. That execution was stayed.
A portion of that lawsuit states “Mr. Gutierrez’s request through the requisite TDJC administrative channels for a reasonable accommodation -to have a Catholic spiritual advisor (a) pray aloud, (b) perform Viaticum, and (c) touch his shoulder in the execution chamber until he is pronounced dead- has been denied,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit calls for relief so that Gutierrez is executed in a manner that does not violate his religious beliefs and his rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.
U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera Jr. issued a ruling on this lawsuit Wednesday dismissing it without prejudice. Since a higher court has already issued a ruling on a case similar to Gutierrez’s, this means the state of Texas and Gutierrez’s attorney will have to agree on what religious protocols will be allowed at Gutierrez’s execution.
Olvera referenced the ruling in the John Ramirez versus the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where the Supreme Court issued its ruling in March of this year allowing a priest to lay hands on him during his execution. Ramirez is scheduled to be executed Oct. 5, 2022.
No execution date for Gutierrez has been scheduled.
A summary of Gutierrez’s capital murder case on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s website pertaining to Gutierrez’s case reads, “On September 5, 1998, in Brownsville, Texas, Gutierrez and two co-defendants entered the home office of an 85-year-old Hispanic female with the intent to rob her of the money she kept in a safe. The victim was struck repeatedly and stabbed multiple times in the head, causing her death. The subject and co-defendants fled the residence with a minimum of $56,000.”
Rene Garcia and Pedro Garza are listed as co-defendants in the case. Garcia, 44, received a life sentence. No information on Garza is available.
Prosecutors argued Ruben Gutierrez and two accomplices planned to rob Harrison of her savings, killing the woman when the theft didn’t go according to plan. Gutierrez has maintained his innocence, pursuing multiple appeals at the state and federal level seeking to have crime scene evidence tested for DNA. All of his appeals were denied